Sunday, 30 June 2013

Glasgow - Day Eight

We started a little earlier than we usually do, because the activity was a day-trip to Edinburgh. A few people turned up besides our group, but even so it was a good time and I think everyone was happy with how it turned out.

In the city we ate lunch and a few people climbed the Scott monument outside Waverley Station. Whatever you say about the Scots, they loved Sir Walter something fierce.

Afterwards we headed out to the Royal Mile and up to the castle where the grounds are set up for the Tattoo and covered with rows of stadium blue chairs. I believe Edinburgh has grown tackier since I was last here; you can buy a disgusting cheap kilt for £25. It breaks my heart. I blame the Americans.

There was an Orange march in the city for a while, and Effie and I sought refuge in the side streets due to the unbelievably obnoxious fife and drums. It's safe to say I'm not a supporter of such violently anti-Catholic movements and was eager not to appear spectator.

Before we headed back we had time for a few photo-ops and then hopped on the train. A few of us got cheap street food and ate it on the bus on the way back to our hosts. There's a Bible Study to prepare for, as well as English lessons for Slovakia that I need to get moving with, and a myriad of other things. I won't lie and say I got in bed early, but it's been worth it.

Sunday will be a quiet day; I may not write as there is nothing scheduled, but if anything interesting comes up I will be sure to mention it. My hosts had pavlova with rhubarb and créme fraîche whilst watching them view ancient polaroid photographs through a projector. After a wee chat I retired to my bed.

I am off to church now, and looking very much forward to it.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Glasgow - Day Seven

Devotions and training in the morning, as per usual. A discussion of how to share the gospel with European students, followed by an exploration of Friends International's other programmes such as the yearly internship Reach.

Lunch was a hasty, but tasty, affair followed by canvassing around town. Today was the worst response to the flyers that we've had. Many rejections, and very few individuals about the place; even fewer of an international appearance. I will admit the weather may have had something to do with this.

Dinner happened after some free time, and then we prepared for the Glasgow's Got Talent night.

Last minute, I was asked to Emcee it with Lizzy, and so, like the man I am, I took it on the chin and bottled up all my talent to save for the presentation, seeing as I was now unable to perform (something I had been, it must be said, actively avoiding).

The show had a handful of acts and got off to a slow start because of technical difficulties, but I told a wee joke (that few laughed at, and fewer with true appreciation) and stalled by quizzing the first act to some length. Halfway through, as is usual, we had an optional Bible study for those interested, and then resumed for the remaining acts. My favourite two were the women singing the Gaelic song Chi Mi'n Geamhradh and the Chinese folk song sung by one of our own team.

Bedtime after that, supposedly, though I'm not sleeping well these days. I wonder why? Perhaps you can tell me.

Glasgow - Day Six

We had the morning and afternoon off, so I had a lie in and went out for a pizza crunch in the afternoon. A pizza crunch is a Glasgow delicacy, where a pizza is dipped in batter and deep-fried. Afterwards, I had a deep-fried Mars bar and Snickers to wash my chips down with. I assure you, my heart was doing things I wasn't expecting. Whilst that may not be entirely down to the battered food, it surely was a contributing factor.

At 5:00 we gathered for dinner, then set up for the ceilidh. We had a true Scot calling the dances, and though I was holding the door for the first half hour it was still loads of fun. Mostly, I watched. Partly because there was a shortage of women anyway, and partly because the oil in my veins had begun to separate with the water in my blood, and I was afraid I was going to part ways with my dinner in a similar (though more violent) way, and wished to avoid doing such a thing anywhere near any other people.

With the assistance of one of the girls from London and one of our group leaders I led a Bible study on the parable of the lost sheep from the book of Luke.

Then it was back to the ceilidh. Fun times. I popped to the pub with the others for just a few moments, before succumbing to the desire for sleep and relaxation in my room in Scotstounhill. Shortly after this realisation, I jumped on a bus and hit the sack, though I will admit my eyes did not close for some time due to other (though not unwelcome) distractions, including but not limited to a Skype call with the family.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Glasgow - Day Five

This will be shorter, because the day was shorter. We had Wednesday night off and will have the day on Thursday off until the evening.

Morning devotions were followed by a discussion of the best way to share a testimony, what should be included, what should be left out, and then we had several examples from guest speakers.

Lunch was a quick affair, and after that the team split up, half going to the University of Glasgow, the rest going into the city centre and the other two universities.

I was on the U of G team, and very much enjoyed spending time on the campus, parts of which are 550 years old. It was graduation day, so kilts were around every corner and I can't say I was complaining. God didn't make a garment more flattering, I am convinced, in a completely fashion-guru sort of way, not a weird way.

Once we had given out as many fliers as we thought reasonable, we regrouped at headquarters and those on the Bible Study team prepared for that (I was on it this time) and then there was free time until dinner. After dinner, we went out to the cinema and enjoyed some group bonding time.

At that point I went home, thinking again of going to bed early. In the end it was around 2:00 that I turned in. I'm not complaining though; had a good chat with some friends, and went to bed...content.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Glasgow - Day Four

None of this Falling Slowly rubbish for me. Anyway, today:

Training and lunch as per usual, then we hit the streets. I was on the team that headed into town itself whilst the other team went to Glasgow University, on the other side. We handed out fliers and made some conversations, though not many. Fewer people were out and about, and a great many weren't interested in being handed anything on the street.

We had free time this afternoon, and I relaxed playing Scrabble online with a good friend, as well as sitting down giving my feet a rest.

I played some ping pong (and discovered it's originally a Chinese term) with a Chinese girl, who told me that it's the national sport of China which I may have known before but appreciated the reminder.

Then supper happened, and prep for the quiz night.

People trickled in, and it was a small group but I think that was ok. We didn't mind. Had some conversations with a few of the new people, and mingled where I could. Ate my share of Doritos, I think, and sour sweets. I'm fat as a warthog by now.

When we had packed up I hopped on a bus to get home, thinking it was the correct one. It wasn't just a random, unfounded hypothesis. In fact, the bus driver had told me specifically it would take me to the street corner I was in search of. As it happened, it took me within about 2 miles of the house I'm staying in, a fact I discovered when I rang my hosts. I was kindly given a lift back to the house by Mr. Mckee.

Every night I expect to get in bed a little earlier than the previous night, and each night it doesn't happen. I can't complain, though. Had a lovely chat on Facetime, that felt like a moment but must have been longer because it's 1:00 now and can't sleep. Not long now, though. Adios, amigos.

Glasgow - Day Three

Relatively late start. Had a short Bible study together, then some briefs about Glasgow as a place, and some discussion about different world views we are likely to encounter amongst the various nationalities.

Lunch happened sometime after that, and thereafter we headed into the city to do some canvassing. Took the tube to the West End, where the University of Glasgow is situated. I think a part of me may have died and gone to a Glasgow University shaped heaven when I saw it. Perhaps one of the most impressive set of buildings I have seen anywhere for many years. After passing flyers out for sometime, we headed back to the centre and did some canvassing in Strathclyde and Caledonian University.

That was the sum of our afternoon, and we returned to headquarters to get ready for dinner. We had a debrief about the evening events, and then dinner. The food was delicious, and I stocked up, eating enough for a year or more. Then I realised we had dessert and despite the loosened notch on my belt (whilst still being tight of girth) I had two portions of strawberries and blueberries with meringues, Scottish ice cream and warm chocolate sauce.

The event was a games and pancake night, so Katie and I went to Sainsbury's and picked up the ingredients while the others decorated. By 7:00 people were showing up and we welcomed them in the hall with tea, coffee and Doritos. Games started happening later on, and I mingled about the room meeting new people. I met an American, a Libyan, a Czech, an Italian, a Syrian, and a variety of others for whom I know not their nationality. I think it went well. Halfway through we announced an optional Bible study for any of those interested, and I think we may have had a couple turn up but I'm not sure.

Tonight I had a new host family. They live on the other side of the city, but they have the most amazing house and are incredibly generous. I slept in a real bed, which, I'm not going to lie, was wonderful.

I didn't blog last night, so I'm doing it now, but I'm off to get some breakfast and take the bus into the city. More tonight. I will say, though, that I'm shocking Katie with my arthritic snapping, my sleazy French, and doing everyone a number with my fluid accents.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Glasgow - Day Two

Breakfast, then church.

The Tron Church, named after the particular area of Glasgow it is situated in, is a big, thriving church that has been going for some time. There are several hundred members, and the hall was packed when we arrived. The hymns were familiar, the singing glorious, and we even indulged in a version of a psalm to the tune of You Raise Me Up which was indeed thrilling.

At lunch I met the rest of the team and discovered I am the only male to arrive from out of town. There are two or three others in total coming to help, but once again, the majority are female.

Lunch was good, then we had tea and chatted whilst getting to know each other, and two old ladies joined us begrudgingly for some icebreakers. One of them was the most cynical person I have yet to meet, and you could never tell if she were being facetious or if life really was as dire as she made it out to be. One of the most amusing situations in a long time.

Evening service was held after we had dessert, and was a similarly refreshing affair, after which we went to the pub to celebrate Katie's birthday (one of the group leaders on the project).

On the team from out of town: Myself, obviously, Penny, a Chinese girl studying in Newcastle, Wei-ky (not sure how to spell it) another girl studying in London, and Elizabeth, a Nigerian-British girl studying somewhere near London as well. Then there is Katie, Ali, another Elizabeth, Jamie (who I haven't met yet) and occasionally Alec and James.

Not much to report. I'll walk in tomorrow, and we'll get started. For now, tis bedtime.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Glasgow - Day One

I left Aberystwyth pretty early. Caught the train with Ailsa, one of my future Slovakia companions, and stayed on it for three hours till arriving in Birmingham. An hour later, after rushing madly through a convenience shop to buy victuals for the rest of the day, finding the bus stop and standing in the pouring rain with a Quaker woman discussing the essence of God on a public street, I loaded my bags and embarked on the six hour drive to Glasgow.

It was just past seven o'clock when I arrived at the church, a few minutes' walk from the station. There I met one of my future co-workers on the mission, who served me chilli leftover from the meal I had missed due to my late arrival, and shortly thereafter I was greeted by Alec, the 24-year-old bus driver I'll be staying with for a day or two.

Alec drove me home after I ate, and we discovered there was no sleeping bag or blanket available to me (and I had neglected to bring one, not realising it might be necessary). Ringing up a friend of his, Annie (so I believe her name to be), we put our request in for a sleeping assistant, and she arrived some time later with some cereal, milk and the implement for improved evening rest in the form of an insulated, socially acceptable human-sized bag for ease of nightly repose especially during such rough-and-tumble events as camping.

That is to say, I have a sleeping bag and am currently tucked inside it just before bed.

The next two weeks will be full, and very exciting. We are putting on a variety of fun evening events complete with Bible studies, Ceilidhs, pancake and game evenings, a Spanish night, to name only a few. During the mornings we will be training and in the afternoons we will be canvassing on the three university campuses in the city. I am looking forward to it. We have a smaller team than previous years, but after a quick chat with Gideon about size issues, I discovered that won't be a problem.

That's all to say for now. More when I have the chance.